A Guide to Le Marais, Paris
Travel with me to the 4th in Paris, and discover its many secrets…
The renovated Hotel Pavillon de la Reine was architected by a mastermind craftsman 400 years ago, with the same kind of skill and fierce obsession France’s most famous artist, Picasso, was known for. By the way, Picasso created many of his works near this place, so go explore around to get some behind-the-scene stories about this genius.
The Pavilion itself, though, is just like a work of Picasso’s art, made with diligence and precision. It is covered with ivy. Everywhere. Beautiful ivy jutting in and out of the building, wrapping itself around the delicately laid brickwork as if it was an extra layer of protective skin. I thought, this is what a hotel should be.
But little did I know that this place wasn’t always a hotel. In fact, it was built and named for the Queen of Austria, Anne, France’s King Louis VIII’s mysterious child bride turn powerhouse. What conversations were had here, I wondered? What decisions did this powerful woman make that affected the lives of millions? What secrets did she keep and why? My hubby always told me I was a queen, but now I really felt like it — like a powerful she-hero surrounded by the trappings of nobility.
I was staying in the same place that housed one of history’s most fabulous women, an ultra-luxe hideaway known as much for its glam amenities as for its super cozy layout. While there, I came to this inescapable conclusion: that at least once in her life, every modern woman should stay in a palace made for a queen — it will remind you how beautiful, perfect and special you truly are.
As if the hotelier’s knew this, I arrived to a suite filled with goodies. How they could have known that my favorite cookie is a French Macaron, I don’t know, but the staff at Hotel Pavillon de la Reine seemed to read my mind throughout our stay.
Part of what makes this place so unique isn’t just the royal hotel itself, as charming and spectacular as it is. What makes this place special is the DNA that surrounds the hotel as well. And in this case, it is the famed Le Marais district, Paris’s witty and urbane 4th arrondissement nestled between the medieval Place des Vosges and ultra-modern Centre Pompidou, the heart of Paris’s cultural life. In other words, going to the Le Marais is like being simultaneously immersed in the most fascinating parts of history and the most fun parts of modern life.
The Place des Vosges is 1,000 years old, bordered by 36 exquisite buildings, and is structured like a lusciously green city square, having previously been home to Paris’s sports tournaments, parades, and duels (much like the Roman Coliseum, but preserved for its architecture and beauty). It is one of the only pre-world war, pre-revolutionary Medieval regions still standing in Europe. That’s right. It’s a place that has never been destroyed by the hubris or hatred of man. My great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandma could have lived there. Yours could have, too. Or your friend’s grandma.
But the point is, when you visit the Place de Vosges and the Le Marais areas –and you should add them to your must see list, as I promise you it will be one of the best experiences of your life– they will seduce you with history and secrets. Prepare to be teased by breathtaking gothic architecture, avant-garde art, and exclusive local food and shopping, which are all second to none.